Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Greatest. Project. Ever.

This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
Let me tell you why.

With so much bloodshed and pain in the world, it is so hard to focus on the good things. They are hidden like gems across landscapes of suffering.

There is so much in the news about war and violence. There is so much in our minds about conflict and hatred. When we talk about politics, we talk about adversaries and enemies. When we speak of our fellow man, we demean and insult. Sometimes there feels like humanity has lost it's very soul.

Then there is this video. Eric Whitacre is an excellent conductor and composer. However, nothing could ever prepare me for this video when I first saw it.
It was here.

This is TED. It is short for Technology, Entertainment and Design. They are a non-profit company all about created events for individuals to share their ideas.

When I first saw this video I cried. Not for a minute, not for an hour, but for days. I cried tears of sorrow and joy. I had never heard anything more beautiful in my life. Over two thousand voices all around the world all in their own parts singing for one purpose: Acceptance and Happiness.

I thought: This is everything good about humanity in one short video. It combines our tenacity to explore, our need to connect, our want to create, and our desire to share. It is technology and nature combined in one single video that reminds me:

No matter how much things may go wrong or how many may die in conflict, there is always something that connects all of us. Whether it be voices in a chorus or comment in a blog, we all feel similar emotions and want to be loved.

I want the world to be a better place, and I want to use technology to do it. Moreover, I want to inspire those who have no hope with my actions and this video. Because if so many people from around the world can come together and make something this beautiful, I can only hope that the entire world can take it as an example of how we should let people live: Free and singing. 

I hope you like it as much as I did. I guess in the grand scheme of things it is just one youtube video. In my mind, it is the ray of hope shining it's light on humanity. It is an inspiration for my teaching and an inspiration for myself.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Education Policy

I expect to update this thing at least every Monday. I just a bunch of new time on Monday night. Score.
Well, it has been quite a journey in the month of January. Iowa was won by Romney... I'm sorry... what?
Wait... what? Rick Santorum won? Gay Bashing, Same Sex Marriage hating, Evangelical stooge Rick Santourm won what might be the most hyped political event since "Climate-gate."

And by the way? What's up with any scandal post 1972 has to end in "gate?" I would think the Watergate hotel would sue.

Anyway, as January moved on and people forgot once again that Iowa is a state, the place where they pick presidents decides their golden boy. That man was Mitt. Mitt won gloriusly throughout the plurality of little moderate New Hampshire. Though most in the Republican Camp knew this, many would go on to argue that Mitt's new tactics we're unethical and overbearing. Mitt is just one very rich man, though. How can he have enough time and energy to pump out the attacks?

Drat, Mitt! You and your Super PACS! How can small time guys like Newt Gingrich get a foothold? Poor Newt...


Well, maybe it's time we just.. you know... let South Carolina succeed.

And what about Ron Paul? Well... after a 3rd place finish in Iowa, a 2nd place in New Hampshire, and a 4th in South Carolina, the Libertarian Carrion (patent pending) is going to have a tough time going on towards Florida. Though Paul might be the most trustworthy and honest of his brethren, he also isn't what the "business as usual" politicians want.

Sadly, I don't think freedom can take another beating.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Idea Forum: Energy Policy: The Achilles Heel

Idea Forum: Energy Policy: The Achilles Heel: I want to turn my attention to this: "As the nation approaches its 57th Presidential Election, we're asking the future leaders of this co...

Energy Policy: The Achilles Heel

I want to turn my attention to this:

"As the nation approaches its 57th Presidential Election, we're asking the future leaders of this country, students, to define the single most important political issue in this election. Tell us not only what that issue is, but also tell us why and how you propose we come to a solution that benefits the majority?"

I found this question for the College Blogging Scholarship. Interesting, no? With all this talk about war with Iran and Eurozone collapse, Many people don't stop and think about the most important issue.

Energy is how we live our lives. It flows though wires of various diameters to our homes. It powers our car. It powers our games. It powers  computers. the scooters and all of our shames. Energy allows all Americans to live. Hell, this blogging scholarship wouldn't be possible without large, polluting coal plants throughout the nation. We are at war over oil and have caused significant changes with the climate. Some of these changes impact our lives directly while other changes impact climates of all other life on the planet.

So we have a huge energy problem in our country. We mine and frack for much of our energy consumption (coal, natural gas, oil) while we buy from others what we cannot produce ourselves. There isn't very much oil production in the US today, though it is growing.

Energy is a huge part of our economy. The economy suffers both in the short and long term if energy costs are high. Less production of oil from any one major source (Canada, Saudi Arabia, South America) would cause skyrocketing gas prices. Nearly half of the world's coal is produced in China, and the US gets nearly half of of it's coal from China. If people want to know why the US and China have gotten so close, I would point them here. http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_coa_pro-energy-coal-production
Fun stuff in there. Have a blast looking up numbers.

Seriously though, we have a Crisis on our hands. An energy crisis. This crisis impacts us on a daily basis and little is done to fix it. This crisis affects everyone, so you would think it would have a major impact on the presidential candidate. The truth, however, is a different reality.

During the past few months the Republicans have been revving up to what sounds like another awful CBS reality show: Election Season. A nonstop roller coaster of debates, flubs, strategic oneupsmanship, and inaccurate polling will lead us into a Novermber election that will shape up to be a sad disappointment for everyone involved. All the Republican contenders, which seem to be more focused on giving tax breaks and incentives to businesses that drill and frack, preserving the assuming Christian tradition of the US, and shave down government by cutting funding for health care, education, and the environment.

Barack Obama, though has done significant work in trying to fix some of these issues, has only succeeded slightly. On top of that, President Obama has had a very difficult time trying to get anything he wants through the House or Senate. To put the icing on the cake, Barack Obama favors building the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would help US refineries but seriously impact an already shifting climate.

There is no candidate that truly represents a growing population who want sustainable energy as a major source of energy for our country. This next election is going to be difficult, because it really is voting for the lesser of two evils.

However, we are still left with this problem. What do we do about energy? It is a problem we face everyday and we see it on our bills and in our bank accounts. More importantly, we see it in the air and water quality as well as the ecosystems we interact with.

Well, first, we need to think: solving the energy crisis affects several issues. Cheaper energy means a faster growing society. Cheaper energy also allows for more innovation. Cheaper energy leads to greater content in international affairs, as trading is easy even between uneasy trading partners. The US imports most of it's energy as well, so the idea of "energy independence is very important. The health and safety impact of mining and fracking bring serious considerations for governments to consider.
Apply this to your brain:

This guy effectively explains some of the positives and negatives of fracking. Public safety, however, should probably be no, 1.

the US isn't left with many options...

or is it???

 This video, though might be considered a long, boring lecture, provides a wealth of information about some of the choices Americans have for our energy production.

Wait... that's the big issue...
Most people don't choose what energy systems they get to use. Those decisions are made by government organizations and businesses. The cool thing about most of these technologies is that they can be used directly by the consumer. Individuals are given tax credits to do it their houses! However, sustainable energy systems are not a very large aspect of consumer consumption.

We could, however, increase incentives for individuals to buy their own sustainable energy source. The cool thing about these incentives is they can be used for personalized solutions for consumer energy needs. Solar works better in some places while wind works better in others. Geothermal is a great tool for energy as well as biogas for places like Wisconsin and California. Happy cows get their poop sent to a bacterial processing facility that makes natural gas! Nuclear energy can be utlilized as well, but many places feel the risk is too great. New designs of Nuclear plants are quite ingenious. One reason the Fukashima Reactor burst was due to age. New facilities could have better design with an upgrade of technology. Fusion, a different atomic process producing a much larger capacity of energy. is right around the corner as well. If humans are able to control it, fusion energy can easily produce electricity in much larger quanities than any of our current resources. Some might call this a pipedream. I call it an eventuality, and one that should happen sooner than later. The US could increase it's production of US made oil and gas, but until substantial work is completed on clean energy, the efforts might have a greater adverse impact.

These are just a few choices we have for energy needs present and future. Giving consumers access to choices (minus Nuclear, obviously) will create a web of energy sources that produce energy in the US while being clean and efficient. Consumers can be the electric company, and every penny saved is a penny earned.

This ecnomic prosperity would let us leave places militarily that are strategic interests, and the United States can actually export more energy that it takes in. Sure China has the most green jobs, but they consume the most dirty energy. If the US and its consumers were able to invest more money in sustainable energy now, we would be a leg up on a country like China in terms of sustainable economic growth. On top of that, American companies, supported by American consumers, can proliferate this technology to other developing nations. Foreign policy, FTW!

When you go to the ballot box to vote this upcoming election season and you want to vote them all off the island, remember what you can do as a consumer to change the world for the better. Or vote for me. Joe Nowinski 2012: Because the world is going to end anyway.


Monday, December 5, 2011

How to take down an Imperial Walker

So, it should be no surprise that I support the recall effort for Scott Walker.

Yes, I know it's expensive, and yes, I know it might undermine the regular election process of our country, but go look at this...

If you're going to be a douchebag, at least be honest about it...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I don't even know where to start today... Looking at the ridiculous state of our country and world, I'm surprised nothing snapped today. There were a few signs of breaking....

Russia threatened Nuclear War... again...
This is pretty much what they said

"Because so many Eastern European nations are turning to NATO and our defense budget is so small, we can't afford to send conventional troops in... we will just have to Nuke them"

WTF, Russia?
I thought we were cool... Somehow, I think Russia is all ready for a new Cold War! It sure will be cold during that nuclear winter...

We have bigger problems here in the US. Someone is trying to assassinate the president (when he's in Asia)....or his staff. 

oops... The Onion is a harsh mistress of comedy...

Armed with his assault rifle this man shot at the Presidential residence. One has to think that A. He's just an idiot B. He's a crazy idiot or C. Something is not quite right with this whole situation. I suppose a crackdown on assassin

Those crazy Occupiers are at it again!

Today was their "Day of Action!" They managed to thwart some business people checking their Linkedin accounts before work, and even stopped school children from being on time. I mean, I guess you get a cool excuse for not having your homework.... It has been Occupied...

But seriously, there has got to be a group of people inside the financial sector that is like...

"You know what? Screw it! Let it fall!"

While the other trader next to him is just like "But Bill, I got money in this thing."
"So do I. We can just ask for more from the government. They love business!"

Boom. Suck it, Corporations. Called  your money market bluff. Honestly though, it is sickening to hear of the bailouts.

This is something both Conservatives and Liberals have in common: Everyone hated the bailout, but we all forget to see the actual necessity of it. Lets rewind the clock back for a quick moment...

2007, the world falls apart. Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers have just sold their last mortgage backed security, and are on death's door.
Bush and Paulson decide "my god... this the next Great Depression!"

They're response. While millions of Americans are losing their jobs and folks are getting foreclosed on, they bail out the largest businesses and financial offices, price tag? They say 700 billion, but is that really the cost? On my previous post I had a bit about Ron Paul and Bernie Sander's audit of the Fed, showing that the amount of the bailout on the Fed's end was ASTRONOMICALLY HIGHER than the measily price tag previously stated.

What was created? Any guesses?

If you said "Moral Hazard" you would be correct.
For everyone that swears up and down that Capitalism is the best economic system on the block, I point to two years: 1929 and 2008. Explain. Explain to me o wise masters of Capitalism how such a remarkable system of free markets and easy flowing goods and services can crash at such a rate that would make a DUI look like bumping into that hot chick at work.

On top of that, those that profited off of the system for so long reaped the benefits of the bailout.

Seriously? Seriously. Has anyone actually sat down and thought about in the most rational way? There had to be a better way.

Thanks Sal Khan.. I knew all hedge fund guys weren't bad.

Too bad that none of it matters now. Like all parts of history, Europe has to screw it up for everyone. You know, I kinda feel bad for Germany too. They are kind of like a landlord who owes a 100,000 dollars on the apartment building full of dead beats. You got the guy next door always baking you treats and telling you what to do with all the other patrons,  the dirty guy who is desperately following his dreams as a professional tango master/bullfighter, that quiet guy at the end of the hall who the landlord can never find except when he needs a couple more days and he'll be good for it, and so many more characters! The guy who lives on the top floor who doesn't pay his taxes but lost all his money in a real estate deal, and the roommates downstairs that are either insulting you or lighting a flaming bag of dog poop on your landing. None of them pay rent, and they all are starting to get on your nerves. I guess you do have those guys who live on the east side of the building, not to many problems with them...but they all just came from your ex-wife's building after your cousin got into a domestic dispute with her before they cheated on you with the last time you wanted to "Share ownership."
This is not how society meant for us to be.

Next time on the Idea Forum, we are going to discuss Scott Walker. should be fun!